The Barter Opportunity

Catherine’s speech on local bartering at the IRTA conference is now available on Google Video:

You have heard me say or write before “in the destruction of the old, let there be the creation of the new.”

Drowning in depressing market news, I flew into Orlando on Monday and drove south for an hour and a half to arrive at the lovely Westgate River Ranch Resort for the 29th annual convention of the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA) . For an introduction to IRTA’s board and staff, click here.

This morning I gave a keynote address about the current state of the global financial system and why market events should increase demand for local and network barter exchanges and alternative currencies. My speech was sponsored by XO Software, based in Auckland, New Zealand.  Given my love for all things Kiwi, it was an auspicious start. Numerous insightful questions were a great introduction to this unbelievably entreprenurial group of people from all across the United States and around the world.

I then participated on a panel, “Community Currencies & Sustainable Businesses” led by Annette Riggs, founder of Community Connect and one of the leading experts in the US on non-cash transaction models. Both audience and panel were filled with exciting examples of the barter and exchange networks percolating throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including BarterXchange Singapore, the Vermont Sustainable Exchange in Burlington, Vermont, Tradesource in Phoenix, Arizona. Reiner Husemann of EBB-Euro Barter Business in Germany gave an excellent presentation on membership card systems and how they were increasing economic activity for members.

The executive director of IRTA, Ron Whitney, and I had agreed that a portion of my speaking fee would be paid in credits on the IRTA system. Imagine my delight at learning that one of the participants, We Trade Network is in Western Montana, same as Solari’s chief of operations. We do all of our printing in Montana. We Trade Network has three printing companies in their network. This is too perfect for words.

The way to learn something is, of course, to do it. So I am looking forward to seeing what I and Solari can do by joining IRTA and We Trade Network and using barter exchanges to swap goods and services. Meantime, it may be worth checking out what barter networks are in your community and networks and whether they can be of service to you. As the dollar keeps falling, it makes sense to strengthen relationships with people and networks who know how to make things go without cash.

At times like this it is good to remember that there are a lot of exciting things going on in the real economy.